SBD/Issue 145/Sports Media

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  • No More Boom: NFL Analyst John Madden Retires After 30 Years

    Madden Retires After 30
    Years As NFL Broadcaster
    NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol today announced that NFL analyst and Pro Football HOFer John Madden has decided to retire from broadcasting, effective immediately. Madden said in a statement, "It's time. I'm 73 years old. My 50th wedding anniversary is this fall. ... It's been such a great ride." He added, "The NFL has been my life for more than 40 years, it has been my passion -- it still is. I appreciate all of the people who are and were such an important part of the most enjoyable, most fun anyone could have." Madden worked for all four broadcast networks during his 30 years as an NFL broadcaster, and he has won 16 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sports Analyst/Personality. The American Sportscasters Association in '85 and '92 named him Sports Personality of the Year (NBC). 

    BEHIND THE RETIREMENT: Madden said of his retirement, “It’s kind of on my terms. Everybody’s going to say, ‘Madden retires. What’s wrong?’ There’s nothing wrong with me.” He added, "The thing that made it difficult is not because I’m second-guessing, ‘Is is the right decision,’ but I enjoyed it so damn much.” Madden said he notified Ebersol “about a week ago” about the decision, and they talked about “some other possibilities," including Madden doing "part of a season or something like that” (KCBS-AM, 4/16). Ebersol said he spent all day yesterday with Madden at his California home making "sure he was sure about his decision." He reiterated in a media conference call that Madden's health did not play a role, noting Madden had passed a physical in recent weeks. (THE DAILY).

    PRAISE FROM COLLEAGUES: NBC's Al Michaels, who worked with Madden the past seven years, including four at ABC, in a statement said, "There's never been anyone like him and he's been the gold standard for analysts for almost three decades." Michaels: "I'll miss working with John on many levels. As a broadcast partner, I could always count on him -- no one ever came to work more prepared" (NBC). Pat Summerall, who worked with Madden at both CBS and Fox, said he was “shocked” when Madden informed him last night of the decision. Summerall: “I don’t think he had any hobbies other than football and breaking down film" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 4/16).

    ONE OF A KIND: THE SPORTING BLOG's Spencer Hall writes, "Madden sought to do what a good chef does, working with the quality ingredients he had in front of him, and adding garnishes only when possible." Last year, he was "still doing what few other color men could do: communicate effectively and concisely with the viewer in a short burst to show you precisely how a running back popped loose for a 30-yard touchdown" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/16). In DC, Mark Maske: "He was known for his offbeat style and his football sound effects as well as his insight into the nuances of the sport" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/16). MSNBC's Willie Geist said Madden had a "style that made you feel like he's one of you." The retirement is "sad news for sports fans who of a certain age have never known football without John Madden's face, without John Madden's voice." Geist: "Even if you were not a diehard football fan, you know who John Madden is" (MSNBC, 4/16). ESPN’s Chris McKendry said Madden had a “larger than life personality” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 4/16).

    Madden's Videogame Has Made
    Billions Of Dollars Since Debut
    LOSS TO THE INDUSTRY: ESPN's Josh Elliott said Madden was "arguably the most beloved color man in the medium’s history." Elliott: "The sports television landscape has changed inexorably today" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 4/16). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio writes, "Sundays and Mondays won’t be the same without John Madden, and in hindsight he capped his career the right way -- by calling one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 4/16).  CNBC’s Darren Rovell called Madden an "absolute legend in the world of sports broadcasting and the NFL.” Rovell noted Madden will also be remembered for his EA Sports NFL videogame franchise, as it has "made billions and billions of dollars” since debuting in '88 ("Squawk in the Street," CNBC, 4/16).

    LEAVING AT THE RIGHT TIME: YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase writes, "It won't feel the same without Madden calling games on any network this year ... but it's the right time for Madden to hang up his microphone." Chase: "To go out now is to go out with his legacy preserved" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/16). SPORTS BY BROOKS writes, "At 73, it was a matter of time before he retired and based on his performance the last couple years, he made the right call to step aside gracefully" (SPORTSBYBROOKS.com, 4/16). Syndicated radio host Jim Rome said, "Announcers are like athletes -- you don't want to stay too long" ("The Jim Rome Show," 4/16).

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  • NBA Signs Deal With DirecTV Giving NBA TV Wider Distribution

    The NBA has signed a multi-year deal with DirecTV that widens NBA TV's distribution. The deal moves NBA TV from its Premier Package and Sports Pack to its Choice Xtra Package, which has about 9 million more subscribers, sources said. As part of the deal, NBA TV will move from channel 601 to channel 216. The deal comes after news broke that Comcast was close to a deal that would see it move NBA TV onto its digital basic tier by the start of next season. Sources said that a deal with the country's second biggest cable operator, Time Warner Cable, could be close. NBA TV currently is in about 15 million homes.

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  • Sports Illustrated Seeks To Maintain Momentum From A-Rod Scoop

    Editor Says SI Has To Be
    More Than A Magazine
    Sports Illustrated recently has been "overshadowed by ... ESPN in terms of what media mavens calls 'the buzz,'" and the magazine's "conundrum reflects the troubles of magazines, especially weeklies," according to Jon Friedman of MARKETWATCH. While SI "publishes a terrific issue every week," ESPN "can boast not only a popular magazine of its own, but also an iconic television and radio network." SI Group Editor Terry McDonell: "SI does not compete with magazines. We compete with networks. We have to be much more than a magazine. Our challenge is to find ways to compete vigorously with people who would seem to have more resources." McDonell said that Time Inc. editors "generally shunned the Web" when he joined SI in '02, because they "thought it was beneath them to write for the medium." But Friedman noted McDonell was "among the first editors at the company to recognize the Internet's value." When SI.com on February 7 first reported that Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in '03, the story "came on the heels of another breakthrough for the magazine," an excerpt from "The Yankee Years," written by Dodgers manager Joe Torre and SI's Tom Verducci. McDonell "shrugs off the ESPN rivalry by noting that its 'SportsCenter' is merely 'based on highlights.'" Also, while McDonell "respects ESPN's popularity, he also all but dismisses his foe by characterizing it as a company that gets 'excited about the Home Run Derby.'" McDonell: "How come no one else is breaking any stories?" Friedman noted ESPN "would respectfully disagree and point to its exclusives," but the Rodriguez and Torre instances "showed that SI still had plenty of journalistic vitality" (MARKETWATCH.com, 4/15).

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  • CBS' Extensive Sports Coverage Earns Millions From Advertisers

    CBS' MMOD Earns $30M From Advertisers
    CBS' use of streaming video for events like the NCAA men's basketball tournament and The Masters has "scored big where it matters most, turning a profit that has so far eluded most old-line media's net game," according to Grover & Lowry of BUSINESSWEEK. The net's March Madness on Demand took in $30M from advertisers "as 7.5 million college basketball fans streamed games on their personal computers, iPhones and other digital devices." While CBS will not give exact amounts, it said that it "turned a tidy online profit" from both the NCAA Tournament and The Masters. Meanwhile, online entertainment services such as Hulu have "yet to turn a profit despite huge traffic for its free, advertiser-supported viewing of TV shows." CBS Interactive President Quincy Smith said that ther net "hopes to entice the NFL to allow it to stream" Super Bowl XLIV in February to go along with its TV broadcast rights. The league "hasn't said yes, although it claims a success last year when it jointly streamed 17 games online with NBC as a test." NFL Senior VP/Digital Media Brian Rolapp said that the online streaming, which "numbered in the millions, didn't cannibalize TV viewing of the Sunday night games." He said that 80% of viewers "turned to the streams to complement TV watching." Rolapp added that the NFL "hasn't decided whether to stream games again this year, and would be open to discussing CBS's Super Bowl request." Meanwhile, Grover & Lowry noted MLB.tv "expects to generate $100[M] this year from the 300,000 fans ... willing to pay up to $109.95 a year to stream baseball games." ESPN360 last year "streamed more than 3,200 baseball, soccer, and other contests," and while the net "won't discuss income ... analysts believe the company likely turned a profit from the streams since it had already paid license fees on the sports events" (BUSINESSWEEK.com, 4/15).

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  • NHL Sees Regular Season Viewership Gains In U.S., Canada

    Versus for its 56 regular-season NHL telecasts this season averaged 310,000 viewers (0.3 cable rating), up 14% from 272,000 viewers (0.3 cable rating) for 58 telecasts last season. The net averaged 305,000 viewers for 33 telecasts before the All-Star break this season, and 318,000 viewers for 23 telecasts following the break. Maple Leafs-Red Wings on October 9 was the net's most-viewed regular-season game with 577,000 viewers, and was one of only three regular-season telecasts to earn over 500,000 viewers (Penguins-Red Wings on November 11, Sharks-Bruins on February 10). Meanwhile, NBC through nine regular-season NHL telecasts has averaged a 1.1 rating with 1.6 million viewers, up 10% and 13.7%, respectively, from last year's final figures of a 1.0 rating and 1.4 million viewers for 10 telecasts. Final data for last weekend's Red Wings-Blackhawks game were not available at presstime. The game earned a 0.6 overnight Nielsen rating. Viewership figures were also up for telecasts in Canada, with the CBC, RDS and TSN all seeing gains. The chart below lists final viewership figures for NHL broadcast partners, with comparisons to last season (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

    '08-09 NHL NATIONAL TV VIEWERSHIP FOR U.S., CANADIAN NETS
    NET
    TELECASTS
    VIEWERS (000)
    % +/-
    NBC
    9
    1,616
    13.7%
    CBC: "Hockey Night in Canada"
    52
    1,000
    4.9%
    RDS (French language)
    120
    650
    7.4%
    TSN^
    82
    451
    11.9%
    Versus
    56
    310
    14.0%
    ^ = Includes pregame ratings for some games.

    Maple Leafs Regional Broadcasts
    Down 19%, But TSN Ratings Up
    ICE PICKS: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich writes though TSN was "going to score higher ratings during the NHL season, mainly because its new deal with the NHL gave it more Canadian content, and more importantly, more Toronto Maple Leafs coverage," it is "doubtful anyone expected ratings to jump as much as they did." It is "even more doubtful ... that anyone expected CBC's ratings to increase after it lost some of its highly valued leafs broadcasts to TSN," but ratings were up 5% for the "Hockey Night In Canada" early-window games and up 4% for late-window games. Zelkovich noted regionally Maple Leafs broadcasts were down 19% on Rogers Sportsnet Ontario, while the Canucks were up 27%, the Flames saw a 15% bump and the Oilers increased 9% on Rogers Sportsnet. Senators ratings "tumbled almost as much as the team did, dropping 33[%]." Meanwhile, TSN's one-hour broadcast of Tuesday night's NHL Draft Lottery was watched by an average of 288,000 viewers. The following lists average viewers and the percentage increase or decrease in viewers from the '07-08 season for NHL telecasts in Canada (THESTAR.com, 4/15). 

    National Broadcasts
    NET
    VIEWERS (000)
    % +/-
    CBC (early games)
    1,232
    5%
    CBC (late game)
    738
    4%
    "HNIC" (pre-game show)
    450
    17%
    TSN
    479
    17%
    SportsNet Regional Broadcasts
    NET
    VIEWERS (000)
    % +/-
    Canucks
    321
    27%
    Maple Leafs
    319
    -19%
    Oilers
    156
    9%
    Flames
    139
    15%
    Senators
    72
    -33%

    ON THE FLY: In Pittsburgh, Lafferty & Moran report FS Pittsburgh averaged a 6.9 local rating for Penguins telecasts during the regular season, a "record-high rating." FS Pittsburgh's "Live Penguins Post-Game" also "recorded record-high ratings," averaging a 2.5 local rating. FS Pittsburgh has "led all FSN regional sports networks in NHL game ratings for the past two seasons." Meanwhile, Lafferty & Moran report WXDX-FM, which has carried Penguins games for the past three seasons, has "agreed on a six-year contract extension, beginning this fall," with the team (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 4/16).

    Ratings For Sharks' Games
    On CSN Bay Area Up 55%
    RATINGS NOTES: CSN Bay Area averaged a 1.4 local rating (33,600 HHs) for Sharks games during the '08-09 season, up 55.6% over a 0.9 rating last year. The March 30 Sharks-Flames telecast drew a 2.2 rating, the highest-rated regular-season Sharks game in the net's history (CSN)....Sabres games this season averaged an 8.1 combined local rating on MSG Network and Versus, down 3.6% from an 8.4 last season (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/11)....NESN averaged a 2.5 local rating for Bruins games this season, up 70% over last year. The net earned a 4.7 local rating for Thursday's Bruins-Canadiens game, the highest-rated regular-season Bruins game on the net since '95 (NESN).

    FROZEN IN TIME: CABLEFAX DAILY reports NHL Center Ice subscribers "can now get replays of same-day games." The enhancement "allows each current day's game to re-air approximately 1-hour after the live game ends," and each game will "replay in its entirety and will repeat continuously overnight and the next day, on the same channel, until the following day's live games begin" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 4/16).

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  • People & Personalities: Adam Schefter Reportedly Heading To ESPN

    Adam Schefter's Contract With NFL
    Network Expires In August
    PROFOOTBALLTALK.com's Mike Florio cited sources as saying that NFL Network reporter Adam Schefter "will join ESPN later this year." Schefter, whose contract with NFL Net expires in August, has not appeared on air since early March. Florio wrote the move "could make for a spirited-to-the-point-of-awkward in-house rivalry" between Schefter and current ESPN NFL analysts Chris Mortensen, John Clayton and Michael Smith (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 4/15). FANHOUSE.com's J.J. Cooper wrote Schefter's loss "would hurt the NFL Network a lot more than he would help ESPN." Schefter has been the "star insider -- the network's go-to man on any story requiring intensive reporting, much like Jay Glazer at Fox" (FANHOUSE.com, 4/15).

    WHAT ABOUT BOB? MLB Network's Bob Costas will offer play-by-play for the net's coverage of today's Indians-Yankees game, his first time calling an MLB game since the '00 Yankees-Mariners ALCS. Costas said of returning to the booth, "I imagine there is some aspect of it that is like riding a bike, and then there is a little bit of rust to knock off. I don't anticipate any major problems, but is it possible that by the third or fourth game I'll be in a slightly better rhythm than the first game? Yes, I guess that's possible." Costas said he missed "being around the game on an ongoing basis, talking with baseball people on an ongoing basis and being steeped in the game" (THE DAILY). MLB.com's Tom Singer wrote Costas' call of the game, the first regular-season contest at the new Yankee Stadium, "will be visible proof of MLB Network's progress" since its January 1 launch (MLB.com, 4/13).

    BUILDING BLOCKS: In DC, Tim Lemke wrote MLB teams "should never underestimate the value of having a good play-by-play man that is respected and admired by fans." The Nationals, "with their tumultuous short history, would be wise to provide as much consistency in the broadcast booth as possible." If Nationals TV announcers Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble "get along as well as they say they do," then they and MASN "should do whatever it takes to keep them together in that booth for the next two decades" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 4/15).

    THE EAGLE HAS LANDED: In Philadelphia, Michael Klein reported Ray Didinger, who accepted a buyout from NFL Films in February, last week signed a deal to work full-time for CSN Philadelphia. Didinger, who had appeared on the net's "Eagles Postgame Live" since its inception in '97, will "turn up all over the schedule and on the Web, including csnphilly.com, 'Daily News Live,' and 'SportsNite'" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/12).

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  • Media Notes

    Watch The Clip
    BILLBOARD's Gail Mitchell reported the NBA is using Kanye West's latest single, "Amazing," as the "musical backdrop" for its '09 playoffs campaign. In a new music video from NBA Entertainment, which premiered yesterday and was "released to fans online," highlights from past playoff games featuring Lakers G Kobe Bryant, Cavaliers F LeBron James and "other NBA players are sequenced against the pounding beat of the West track" (BILLBOARD.com, 4/15).

    COOL RECEPTION: YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase reported a trailer for "The Cooley Zone," a "web-based look at the life" of Redskins TE Chris Cooley, was "released on YouTube this week." The show is "supposed to debut this summer, but it's not exactly clear where." If producers "didn't use up all the good footage in the trailer, 'The Cooley Zone' has tremendous potential." But one person who "may not find it funny" is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as in the trailer there is a "lot of cursing [and] boozing. Chase: "With a promise of 'behind-the-scenes Redskins action', it will be interesting to see if the NFL doesn't want fans entering 'The Cooley Zone'" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/15).

    SECOND TO NONE: CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS' Ed Sherman wrote while the ESPN "mothership has a severe East Coast bias," one "won't hear that rap about ESPNChicago.com." ESPN wants the site to be a "one-stop shop for Chicago sports fans," and it has the "power to pull it off." Sherman wrote fans "can't underestimate the video component and ESPN's ability to deliver experts" like MLB analyst Peter Gammons or NFL analyst John Clayton "talking about Chicago teams." Sherman: "It would be foolish to bet against this project" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 4/15).

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